MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) - With voters pointing to concerns about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's honesty, former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have gained ground on the Democrat in the presidential race in Florida, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Bush, who has been traveling the country and raising tens of millions of dollars in anticipation of a bid for the Republican nomination, leads Clinton by a margin of 45 percent to 42 percent in Florida, the Quinnipiac University poll said. A similar survey in early February showed Clinton ahead 44 percent to 43 percent against Bush.
Rubio, who is expected to announce April 13 whether he will run for president, trailed Clinton in Florida by a margin of 46 percent to 44 percent in the new poll. But that is markedly different from last month, when Clinton had a 10-point lead over Rubio.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said a controversy about Clinton's use of a personal email account and computer server while secretary of state has affected how voters view her. Quinnipiac also conducted surveys in Ohio and Pennsylvania and found voters divided on Clinton's honesty and trustworthiness.
"The good news for Hillary Clinton is that the email controversy has not done huge violence to her presidential chances,'' Brown said. "But the matter is taking a toll on the former secretary of state's public image."
The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states and is focusing on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because of the crucial roles they play in presidential campaigns.
Nevertheless, the poll results give only a glimpse of the early stages of the 2016 presidential race. Bush, Rubio, Clinton and most other potential candidates have not formally announced their candidacies. What's more, the Florida presidential primary is still nearly a year away.
The Florida poll, which was conducted from March 17 to March 28, surveyed 1,087 voters and has a margin of error of 3 percent, according to Quinnipiac.
The poll found that Florida voters, by somewhat slim margins, had favorable opinions of Bush, Rubio and Clinton.
But the poll showed Bush with a major advantage over Clinton on the issue of honesty and trustworthiness. It indicated 54 percent of Florida voters think Bush is honest and trustworthy, while 35 percent do not. By contrast, 41 percent of Florida voters said Clinton was honest and trustworthy, while 50 percent said she was not.
Despite the questions, Clinton led a list of other potential Republican candidates --- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz --- in hypothetical contests in Florida. Paul did the best, trailing Clinton by a margin of 46 percent to 43 percent in the state.
Quinnipiac also found that Clinton has healthy leads over Bush and Rubio in Ohio and Pennsylvania. For example, she leads both by margins of 47 percent to 38 percent in Ohio.
The News Service of Florida's Jim Saunders contributed to this report.
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